LIVING LARGE: An Alternative Model for Urban Living

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LIVING LARGE: An Alternative Model for Urban Living

Jasmine Kwak

MArch Degree at MIT


A house once symbolized the American dream- frequently clustered in tight rows and cul-de-sacs, the single-family dwelling not only represented financial success but stability and hope for the future. However, as recent generations have come to face more and more economic difficulties, a house has, for many, become more of a liability than a dream.
Lack of home ownership in New York City has reached an extreme- more than 75% of residents rent rather than own. In light of this trend, this thesis seeks to imagine, through architecture, a new kind of American dream: housing for nomads where no one owns anything and people are free to roam around the city. This proposal suggests that rather than continuing to downsize the microhouses that constitute today’s solution to the home ownership problem, Americans can once again live large—together.



Who influences you graphically?

I have recently been inspired by different comic book graphics, such as Frank Miller’s Sin City. I especially like the punchiness of these graphics.

What tools do you use?

For these set of images, I used Rhino, Vray, Photoshop, and Illustrator.  I usually spend more time on Photoshop than Vray because I personally find photo-realistic renderings to be restricting.


What role does colour play and what is its relationship to the people? How does your textured and sombre palette reinforce the thematic of the death of the American dream?

The color and texture of the renderings were utilized to convey the tone of the thesis.   I wanted to convey both the melancholy mood as well as a hint of hope.  The melancholy mood, caused by the death of the American dream as we know it, is counteracted by the hope for the future that the thesis seeks to provoke.  Graphically, as the high contrast in the background sets for a dark mood, the gradient of yellow to blue gives that slight optimism.

The entourage was repeated and was shown with same outfits and colors to let the audience follow them through different renderings.  This allowed for me to utilize the characters to show how the proposal provides different types of interaction amongst the residents.

To what extent was the stencil graphic intentionally used to reflect the urban fabric of New York?

Although it was not my initial intention, as I was developing these images, I found myself using the stencil graphic to reflect some of the grunginess of New York.   I liked how the use of the stencil graphic allowed me to portray my project in a more realistic context.


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